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Full text of "Virginia Wildlife"

IRGINIA 



WILDLIFE 



JUNE 2011 



FOUR DOLLARS 



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t 2011 CONTENTS 




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20 10 Angler of the Year 



30 AFIELD AND AFLOAT 

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ABOUT Tin; CCAIR: K;ij;lc on Ihr.l; .s. I'.s^aN on pa-c IS. ' Lwhla I'urliar.isuii 




"Y 



BOB DUNCAN 
Executive Director 



es, Virginia, we've gone to the dogs!" And gladly so. I'm 
referring to our new K9 unit, an addition to the DGIF 
family that we are most excited about! 
According to Colonel Watts, who leads our Law Enforcement 
Division, at the urging of one of our Conservation Police Officers we 
looked into the feasibility of establishing a K9 unit to assist officers in 
the field. This spring, after completion of an intensive training pro- 
gram in Indiana, I'm pleased to report that three young 'graduates' 
and their handlers have come home to Virginia. 

Wildlife-trained K9 teams differ from other K9 teams in a num- 
ber of important ways, among them: 

• The dogs are sporting breeds, and in our case. Labs. 

• The dogs focus on wildlife-related activity and are specifically 
trained to track, to recover articles, and to detect wildlife. 

In other ways, however, these dogs share much in common with 
all K9 units involved in law enforcement activities. They form incred- 
ible bonds with their handlers and they behave with utmost disci- 
pline. 

Our Conservation Police Officers (CPOs) are held in the high- 
est regard across the state and across the nation. But there are limits to 
what the human body can physically accomplish. There are limits to 
what the nose can smell and the eyes, see. The addition of these three 
Labrador retrievers — ^Jake, Justice, and Scout — will extend the reach 
of our officers conducting investigations into accidents and wildlife 
crimes, or performing search and rescue. I view this new K9 team as a 
"force multiplier" within our agency. 

Responding to the 
commands of CPO 
handlers Megan Vick, 
Richard Howald, and 
Wayne Billhimer, the 
dogs conduct fieldwork 
efficiently and quickly. 
We have already wit- 
nessed several incidents 
where their contribu- 
tion was immediately 
apparent and invalu- 
able. Stay tuned for 

more information about these dogs and their talented handlers in an 
upcoming feature of this magazine, as we look forward to sharing 
their successes with you. 

Yes, this is good news for a wildlife agency that turns 95 years old 
this month. We've been in the business of wildlife protection long 
enough to have witnessed many clever maneuvers by poachers and 
other law breakers in their attempts to outsmart us. We think we may 
have just leveled the proverbial playing field a bit — certainly I've met 
three Labs that would agree. 

Who says you can't teach a new dog old tricks? 



MISSION STATEMENT 

lo manage Virginia';, wikllitc .uid inland fish in maintain opiimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth; To 
piuvidc opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard the rights 
of the people to hunt, fish and harvest game as provided for in the Constitution of Virginia: To promote safety for persons and property in 
connection with boating, hunting and fishing; To provide educational outrcich programs and materials that foster an awareness of and appre- 
ciation for Virginia's fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities. 

Dedicated to the Conservation of Virginia's Wildlife and Natural Resources 





(L to R) Justice and CPO Billhimer, Scout and 
CPO Howald, Jake and CPO Vick. 



VOIUMH 72 



NllMBHR 6 



COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA 

Bob McDonnell, Governor 

HUNTING & FISHING 
LICENSE FEES 

Subsidized this publication 



J 



SECRETARY OF NATURAL RESOURCES 
Douglas W. Domenech 

DEPARTMENT OF GA.ME AND 

INLAND FISHERIES 

Bob Duncan 

Executive Director 

MEMBERS OF THE BOARD 
Ward Burton, Halifa-x 
Lisa Caruso, Church Road 
J. Brent Clarke, III, Fairfax 
Curtis D. Colgate, Virginia Beach 
James W. Hazel, Oakton 
Randy J. Kozuch, Alexandria 
John W. Montgomery, Jr., Sandston 
Mary Louisa Pollard, Irvington 
P. Scott Reed, Jr., Manakin-Sabot 
Leon Turner, Fincastle 
Charles S. Yates, Cleveland 

MAGAZINE STAFF 

Sally Mills, Editor 

Lee Walker, Ron Messina, Julia Dixon, 

Contributing Editors 
Emily Pels, Art Director 
Carol Kushlak, Production Manager 
Tom Guess, Linda Stone, Susan Watson, 

Staff Contributors 

Printing by Progress Printing, Lynchburg, VA. 

V,rginM WMifi (ISSN 0042 6792) is published monthly 
by the Virginia Department of Game anci Inland Fisheries. 
Send all subscription orders and .address changes to Virginia 
Wildlife, P. O. Box 8.^0, Boone, Iowa 50056. Address all 
other communications concerning this publication to Vir- 
ginia Wildlife, P. O. Box 1 1 104, 4010 West Broad Street, 
Richmond, Virginia 23230-1104. Subscription rates are 
SI 2.95 for one year, $23.95 for two years; $4.00 per each 
back issue, subject to availabilitv'. Out-of-country rate is 
$24.95 for one year and must be paid in U.S. funds. No re 
funds for amounts less than $5.00. To subscribe, call tollj 
free (800) 710-9369. POSTMASTER: Please setid all 
address changes to Virginia Wildlife, P O. Box 830. Boone 
Iowa 50056. Postage for periodicals paid at Richmond, Vir 
ginia and additional entry offices. j 

Copyright 201 1 by the Virginia Department of Game am' 
Inland Fisheries. All rights reserved. 

Ilie Department ot Game and Inland Fisheries shall afTorc 
to all persons an equal access to Department programs and 
facilities without regard to race, color, religion, national ori' 
gin. disability, sex, or age. If you believe that you have beer 
discriminated against in any program, activity or facility 
please write to: Virginia Department of Game and Inlara 
Fisheries, ATTN: Compliance Officer, (4010 West Broi 
Street.) P. O. Box 111 04, Richmond, Virginia 23230-1 104 

ITiis publication is intended for general informational pur 
poses only and every effort has been made to ensure its ac 
curacy. Tlie information contained herein does not serve a 
a legal representation of fish and wildlife laws or regulation; 
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries doe 
not assume responsibility for any change in dates, regula 
tions, or information that may occur after publication 



'A 






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With little fanfare and a 
spirit of cooperation, 
biologists reintroduce 

endangered mussels to the 
rivers of Southwest. 



S 



by Gail Brown 

nowshoe hare? Sure. Shortnose 
sturgeon? Of course. Red cockad- 
ed woodpecker? Virginia big- 
eared bat? Green sea turtle? Yes. Yes. 
Absolutely! But the birdwing pearlymussel? 
The purple bean? Ian riffleshells? The oyster- 
mussel and cracking pearlymussel? What are 
the chances freshwater mussels, so benign 
and sedentary, would become the center ot 
turmoil and controversy? Who could have 
predicted the value of the Tennessee heel- 
splitter, or estimated the loss of the Ohio pig- 
toe? 

What happened to these beautiful crea- 
tures and to the rivers of Virginias upper 



©Dwight Dyk. 



Tennessee River Basin is tragic. What is hap- 
pening tocHay to protect and restore these 
treasures is inspiring. And at the heart of it all 
remains a simple, one-footed creature that 
lives inside two hinged shells; an animal in 
possession of an incurrent and excurrent 
siphon capable of filtering over a gallon of 
water an hour; a bivalve so content it will sit 
for 50 to 100 years in the hope that food, and 
for some, sex, might chance to float their way. 
Chancy indeed, considering all the complex 
events that must take place at a particular 
time, and in a particular order, for mussels to 
reproduce. Yet at one time mussels were plen- 
tiful. Lining the waterways of southwestern 
Virginia like cobbles on the yellow brick 
road, they appeared to go on forever. Not any 
more. 

Before dams were constructed, before 
industriid waste spilled into the rivers, before 
pollution invaded our waterways, and long 
before the exotic zebra mussel overwhelmed 
native mussels like the threeridge and pink 
mucket, the United States was blessed with 
almost 300 species of healthy freshwater 
mussels. The significance of that nimiber, 
300, becomes apparent when considering the 



fact that there are only 1 ,000 species wodd- 
wide. In ;ill of Africa, only 96 species exist; 
across all of China, only 60; and in all the 
countries of Europe only 1 2 species can be 
found. How amazing, then, that Virginia has 
81 species, with over 45 documented in the 
upper reaches of the Powell, Clinch, and Hol- 
ston rivers. Of those 45 species, several are 
found solely in Virginia. In centuries past 
these riverbeds must have sparkled as no 
other, for mussels are not only indicators of 
clean, healthy waterways, but serve as filters 
that continually clciin up afi:er other organ- 
isms, algae, and bacteria. And they can do this 
for decades as long as their environment is 
not too gready disturbed. 

But things were disturbed, horribly so, 
resulting in over 7 percent of tiie freshwater 
mussels in the United States becoming ex- 
tinct and over 70 percent listed as at risk. Of 
the species remaining, 50 percent are protect- 
ed by the United States Endangered Species 
Act. Numbers can hurt. Numbers like the 5.8 
million gallons of coal waste slurry that 
seeped into the North Fork Powell River in 
1996, settling over federally listed fish and 
mussels and contaminating everything for 50 




Birdwing pearlymussel (Lemiox rimosus) Purple kjean (Villosaperpurpufea) 



miles. Or numbers like 1 30 million gallons ot 
ash slurry that flowed into the Clinch River in 
1967, killing over 200,000 fish and an untold 
number of mussels in just 4 days! Almost 90 
miles of the river were impacted as the poison 
seeped through southwestern Virginia and on 
into Tennessee. While the Clinch struggled to 
recover, the sulfuric acid spill of 1970 
slammed into its fragile ecosystem, severely 
impacting the rivers rare and already endan- 
gered mussel population, which, since they 
are much slower to reproduce than other 
aquatic life forms, was still vulnerable when 
this new disaster struck. 

Numbers told the tale again when, in 
1998, 1,350 gallons of a rubber accelerant 
spilled into a tributary of the Clinch following 
a tanker truck accident. An estimated 18,000 
mussels, including 750 endangered freshwa- 
ter mussels (of three different species) as well 
as fish, snails, and other aquatic organisms 
were destroyed. It was a terrible day, one that 

Here, juveniles 15mm and larger are kept in 
this upweller system. A mesh screen allows 
ambient pond water to provide a natural 
food source. Below, the Clinch River. 






"jd* 








become implanted, the glochidia encyst into 
the tissue of the fish where they will continue 
to grow and develop into complete organ- 
isms. Once developed, the glochidia drop 
from the host fish, burrow into the substrate 
as juveniles, ;md continue to grow, hopefiilly 
to become healthy adult mussels. 

While each stage oi development in the 
wild is fraught with chance, at AWCC each 
step is carefully controlled and monitored. 
At the beginning of the process, the 
glochidia are collected and studied under a 
microscope to make sure the larvae are ready 
before being implanted into the right host 



I 

) 



Water is constantly circulated through pans of sediment to simulate stream conditions. 
Temperature and food supply are controlled. 



All juvenile mussels must be counted. 



would be recorded as the date of the largest 
endangered species kill-off in the United 
States since the Endangered Species Act of 
1973 came to life. The result? While the 
upper Tennessee drainage system of Virginia 
claims 1 02 species — over one-third of the en- 
tire fauna of freshwater mussels in the United 
States — Virginians can lament the fact that 
when the area is compared to watersheds of 
similar sizes, the Clinch holds an unfortunate 
first place for having the greatest number of 
at-risk fish and mussels anci the Powell, the 
equally unfortunate third. 

Yet unlike other areas where no mussels 
remain, these rivers still have a viable mussel 
population: In the end, in Virginia, both 
mussels and opportunity made it through. 
Factor in opportunity and a very different 
equation surfaces. Recognizing this, in 1998, 
with the goal of propagating and protecting 
the commonwealths mussels and educating 
all citizens about their value, the Department 
established the Aquatic Wildlife Conserva- 
tion Center (AWC]C) within the Bullet Fish 
Cultural Station, just outside of Marion. 



There, through the work of Aquatic Re- 
source Project Manager Michael J. Pinder 
and biologists Amanda Duncan, Joseph Fer- 
raro, and Jonathan Orr, the chances that 
some species can be replenished are steadily 
being realized. Because of the complexity of 
propagating these species even in controlled 
situations, however, nothing is guaranteed. 
While mussels have a long life span, their 
ability to reproduce in large numbers in the 
wild is now risky at best. 

Under optimal conditions, the process 
happens as follows: The male releases sperm 
which float downstream to waiting females. 
Ihe female mussels take in the sperm 
through their incurrent siphon. Anywhere 
from hundreds to thousands of fertilized 
eggs should develop into glochidia (larvae) 
within the gills of the mussel. Within two 
weeks to two months, depending on the 
species, the glochidia will drop into the water 
and attach themselves to a fish. Ihis is a very 
chancy stage, as only certain fish can serve as 
host fish for each species of mussel for devel- 
opment to continue. Should the correct fish 




Duncan checks the health, survival, and growth 
rate of new juvenile mussels. 



VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HunfFishVA.conn 



(L to R) Ferraro, Duncan, and Pinder were all smiles last fall when over 3,500 federally endangered mussels raised at AWCC were released 
into the Clinch River. 



Lee Walker 



fish for the correct mussel species. Care is 
taken so that the host fish remain healthy and 
are not overly infested. Once juvenile mussels 
drop from the host fish they are removed and 
placed in holding tanks, and the detailed, 
often tedious job of counting the juveniles be- 
gins — no easy task since the animals are 
smaller than a grain of salt! Those same mus- 
sels must be counted again 28 days later and 
again and again before being released into the 
wild. From 2003 to 2010, over 4,101,481 
freshwater mussels from 25 different species 
were raised. During that same time period, 
675,462 mussels of 20 different species were 
released into the Clinch and Powell rivers. 
That's a lot of counting and a lot of trans- 
planting! 

Very impressive. But how is it possible? 
Mussel Propagation Specialist Joseph J. Fer- 
raro believes he knows the answer. He says it's 
the stafFs ability to get along and work to- 
gether that has made the difference. Ferraro 
includes the staff at Buller Fish Station in this 
assessment as well. "They work closely with us 
to help us. 1 can tell you that's not always the 
case in other centers. But that's what people 



do in this area — they help their neighbors 
out." That's true. It's also true that through 
hard times, long days, and cold nights, nei- 
ther those tough mussels nor those deter- 
mined biologists thought to cry "uncle. " No 
doubt typical of the area as well. 

Pinder, who has been at the center since 
it opened, recalls, "When we first began, we 
struggled to produce even a few mussels that 
were large enough to release. Times have 
changed. In September of 2010 we released 
3,500 federally endangered mussels repre- 
senting two difFerent species we raised here at 
the center. It was the biggest single release of 
larger sized, endangered freshwater mussels 
in the eastern United States. " Virginia can be 
proud of that effort. We can all take comfort 
in those numbers. 

Still, there is more work to do as increas- 
ing the number of mussels restored to our 
rivers is only part of the equation. Educating 
others about the history and value of fresh- 
water mussels is of equal importance if these 
animals are to have a fighting chance to make 
a comeback. "Education is an important part 
of our job," states AWCC biologist Amanda 



Duncan. "We continually host school 
groups, from elementary to college level, and 
attend community outreach programs, such 
as Kids in the Creek Days, watershed festiv;ils, 
and numerous outdoor events to help get the 
word out. We have people visiting the area as 
well as residents who stop by, and we always 
take the opportunity to educate them before 
they leave. They always have questions." One 
answer was easy: "No, they are not for eating! " 
Because of the diligence of people like 
Pinder, Duncan, Ferraro, and Orr, there is a 
good chance things could turn around and 
we might keep these natural treasures we are 
so fortimate to have. No one expects to see the 
numbers we had centuries ago, but certainly 
we can move forward from where we were 
decades ago. So for now, the te;im continues 
to go about their work and watch the num- 
bers. In time, their diligence and patience 
may earn us something we don't often get: a 
second chance. A lot can change, given a sec- 
ond chance. (*f 

Gail Brown is a retired teacher and school 

iid})u>iistriitor. 



JUNE 2011 ♦ 




1 A Jk /l^^ft^^^^^^H 

iLovd 



story & photos 
by Emily M. Grey 

Imagine yourself and your family as resi- 
dent immigrants in a foreign land. You 
cannot yet speak the language or under- 
stand the local customs. You and your family 
enjoy fishing, though you do so primarily for 
subsistence. It will take time to become accli- 
mated ajid learn local and state regulations. In 
your homeland, fishing laws were nonexistent 
or not enforced. How do you want to be treat- 
ed, especially if you unintentionally break the 
law? 

Understanding each other's language, of 
course, can be challenging to multicultural 
anglers and conservation police officers. And 
body language sends a powerful message that 
can allay or further complicate a situation. 
Hvervone picks up on a smile or a frown. 

Mexican-born tomato field worker 
Francisco Sanchez and his 10-year-old son 
Edgar love to fish. Last summer a wonderfiil 
day turned south at Guard Shore, a popular 
bayside spot in Accomack County on the 
Eastern Shore. A local law enforcement offi- 
cer detained Sanchez, labeling his picture 





ishin 



identification card issued by the Consulate of 
Mexico as "questionable" — which resulted in 
the issuance of a citation and a trip to court. 
Upon examining the defendant's passport 
and phoning the Mexican Consulate, the 
judge eventually dismissed the case. After this 
harrowing episode, Sanchez says that he has 
reservations about going fishing again. 

"People are working to try to make a bet- 
ter life for themselves and their families," says 
retired conservation police officer (CPO) 
Bruce Lemmert about Hispanics. "They are 
looking for something to do and a place to go. 
They don't have a lot of money. Fishing is 
recreation and provides food to cook. Some 
people are really struggling. They open their 
wallets atid show their green card and five or 
ten dollars, their whole worldly possessions. 

"With a lot of resident fishermen, there 
is a resentment factor, especially when His- 
panics use nets as they do in their home coun- 
try," he continues. "Some local people report 
Hispanic fishermen who are using a pole as 
not having a license when they actually do." 

Good Samaritans like Joe McKnight, 
pastor of Hollies Bapdst Church in Kellar, 
have reached out to the Hispanic community. 





Above, Chris proudly shows the sunfish he 
caught at Burke Lake. On page 10, a family 
prepares to go crabbing at Guard Shore, a 
popular beach on the bayside. 



Left, Tony Anthony of the Shinnecock 
Indian Nation gives casting pointers. 



Laptops, software, and a rent-free parsonage 
are among his church's gifts to local Hispanic 
missions. Every July, his church holds a fish- 
ing day when anglers harvest croaker, trout, 
and other bay bounty and fry them to perfec- 
tion for a hungry crowd. In his free time. Pas- 
tor Joe takes Hispanics fishing aboard his 
boat. 

"1 like taking people out and watching 
them catch fish for the first time," McKnight 
explains. "I enjoy how they appreciate the 
Eastern Shore and seeing nature through 
their eyes. The Hispanic culture has done far 
more for me than I could ever do for them." 

Law Enforcement 
Perspective 

Previously assigned to the district of 
Loudoun, Fairfiix, and Prince William coun- 
ties, former CPO Bruce Lemmert has fre- 
quently witnessed people of different cultures 
sport fishing in Northern Virginia. On warm 
weather weekends, the shores of Burke Lake 
in Fairfax County resemble a meeting of the 
United Nations, with families of Middle 
Eastern, Southeast Asian, and other descent 
casting lines along the bank. But because an 
ethnic count is not taken, it is impossible to 
kjiow how many nation;ilities purchase Vir- 
ginia fishing licenses annually. 

"The Hispanic community is from all 
over: South America, Mexico, and Central 
America. It's an ongoing process of new peo- 
ple coming in," Lemmert acktiowledges. "As 
with anything new, officers are feeling their 
way along, enforcing the law, and trying to 
educate. 

"For the most part, people do not want 
to be in trouble and show respect," he contin- 
ues about Hispanics. "They come to court 
when issued a citation and want to pay their 
fines. They are trying to comply and accom- 
modate to our unique system of rules, regula- 
tions, and licenses, which can be complex. " 

"Interacting with Hispanics and dealing 
with fishing from a law enforcement perspec- 
tive is a challenge," agrees CPO Sgt. Steve 
Garvis, based on Virginia's Eastern Shore. 
"First, there's the language barrier. Very few 
speak English, which makes field contacts 
very difficult. Often, Department (DGIF) 



JUNE 2011 ♦ 11 




Purchasing Licenses 



Convenient ways to buy saltwater and freshwater fishing licenses in Virginia: 

• Online: www.dgif.virginia.gov/licenses 

• Call 1-866-721-6911 (M-F, 8 A.M.-5 p.m., except holidays). 

• In person: There are hundreds of license agents throughout the state. 

• Mail: Download and print the proper form at 
{www.dgif.virginia.gov/licenses) and mail to the address provided. 

For current fishing regulations and angling opportunities, visit: 

• Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries 
www.dgif.virginia.gov/fishing/regulations 

• Virginia Marine Resources Commission/Saltwater license 
www.mrc.virginia.gov/regulations/swrecfishingrules.shtm 



officers are not able to establish an effective di- Department now incorporates a "Spanish for 

alogue or make the basic requests required to Law Enforcement" class as part of its training 

check for a fishing license or creel limits. academy. Many CPOs volunteer to take 

"Second, there's a cultural difference in Spanish classes through their local communi- 
conservation concepts," Garvis continues. "In ty college as a way to improve their communi- 
my experience, Hispanics view fishing and cations skills. And, on DGIF-managed access 
crabbing from a subsistence-level rather than areas (boat landings and fishing piers) fre- 
recreational approach. 1 have observed little to quented by Hispanics, the DGIF posts man- 
no understanding ot seasonal creel limits, agement rules in both English and Spanish, 
species size limits, or license requirements." The communications gap is not unique 

"When necessary in the field, we aill a to Virginia, of course. Conservation officers 

court translator who translates over the cell in the Province of Quebec, for example, hand 

phone or a child in a fishing party often speaks out small leaflets to anglers that are printed in 

English," adds CPO Travis Murray, also as- nine languages. This handy guide succincdy 

signed to the Eastern Shore. provides local fishing information — includ- 

In response to such challenges, the ing where to obtain a license. 



Left, now-retired CPO Bruce Lemmert 
examines Ramon Gomez's fishing 
license. 



Related 

Demographics 

and Trends 

Hispanics are officially our nations largest mi- 
nority group. Comprising 1 5 percent of the 
U.S. population, they represent 7 percent of 
the commonwealths approximately 8 million 
residents. 

Hispanic migrant workers are essential 
to the Eastern Shore's agriculture industry. 
They account for a respective 10 and 7 per- 
cent of Accomack and Northampton coun- 
ties' population; as such, Hispanics are the 
area's most readily visible ethnic group. 

The "Special Report on Fishing and 
Boating" conducted by the Recreational 
Boating and Fishing Foundation and the 
Outdoor Foundation provides detailed infor- 
mation on participation by ethnicity, gender, 
age, education, income, ;ind geographic re- 
gion. Among the key findings is that in 2008 
Hispanic participants made more than 45.8 
million annual outings. Hispanic youth aged 
6 to 1 2 have the highest participation among 
all age groups (19.5%) followed by ages 13 to 
17 (16.4%). The most prevalent barrier to this 
recreation cited by Hispanics is lack of time 
(53.3%) followed by a perceived lack of access 
to fishing areas ( 1 7%). 

Dr. Qian Cai, Director of Demograph- 
ics and Workforce at the Weldon Cooper 
Center of the University ot Virginia, has done 
extensive research on Hispanic immigrants 
and citizens in Virginia. Her research discloses 
that the majority of the estimated 570,000 
Hispanics in Virginia are U.S. citizens. The 
American Community Survey of 2009 iden- 
tified a total of 265,000 Hispanic foreign- 
born individuiils. 

Not surprisingly, adult citizens achieve 
more economiciilly and educationally than 
the overall population. Tliey are well repre- 
sented in all occupational sectors; particularly, 
the military. 

To reduce costs, Hispanic immigrants, 
both authorized and unauthorized, tend to 
pool and share resources with family and non- 
family members. Over generations, Hispanic 
citizens and immigrants do well with cultural 



12 



VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HunfFishVA.com 





Kwang Dyung and son John, formerly from South Korea, love to fish. 



RESOURCES 



and socio-economic assimilation. English 
proficiency improves among Hispanics with 
each year spent in the U.S., while traditions 
and cultural values continue to influence 
their way of life. 

A University of Massachusetts Depart- 
ment of Forestry and Wildlife 1 998 study ad- 
dresses the role of demographics and the 
constraints of minority group participation 
in recreational fishing. According to that 
study, between 1 995 and 2025, 78 percent of 
the net change in the U.S. population will be 
attributed to minority members. This, in 
turn, will influence participation and expen- 
ditures in fisheries activities and affect fish- 
eries management. 

Policy 

The Virginia Employment Commission re- 
ports that our states Hispanic population will 
double between 2006 and 2030, resulting 
from births and immigration. Understand- 
ing this population composition and charac- 
teristics can furnish a factual framework for 
policy considerations. 

Recognizing population trends can help 
agencies successfijlly recruit new participants 
and become more efficient in providing more 
opportunities and services to a growing num- 
ber of minority constituents. Managers must 



realize that they can no longer focus solely on 
the interest of the traditional angling client. 

"We have been looking for new con- 
stituents in our agency," Lemmert says. "His- 
panics are a new group knocking on our door. 
They are very valuable potential constituents 
to us. I thinkthey want to enjoy the outdoors. 
Anyone with family values we can definitely 
use in our system." 

That may be an understatement. Still, 
many law enforcement officers throughout 
our state and country relate to the opinion of 
CPO Sgt. Garvis who says, "I view our chal- 
lenge as conservation officers as: How do we 
effectively enforce natural resource laws and 
teach a recreational conservation concept to 
an increasingly diverse population of future 
hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts?" 

"It boils down to individuals showing a 
welcoming hand," Lemmert concludes. 
"Hispanics are going to affect the fiature of 
wildlife in this state and this country. It would 
be in our best interest to make them have a 
positive experience without violating our 
laws. Hopefully, our sportsmen will help 
them." (>f 

Emily M. Grey is a writer, photographer, naturalist, 
and attorney from Virginias Eastern Shore. Her 
piissions are nature, traneling, and interacting with 
varied cultures. 



The Recreational Boating and Fishing 
Foundation is a nonprofit organiza- 
tion whose mission is to increase par- 
ticipation in recreational angling and 
boating, thereby protecting and 
restoring the nation's aquatic natural 
resources, it helps people discover, 
share, and protect the legacy of boat- 
ing and fishing through national out- 
reach programs, including the Take 
Me Fishing ™ campaign and Anglers 
Legacy™. 

To learn about Kids' Fishing Days, 
checkwww.HuntFishVA.com. Also, 
the Virginia Sportfishing & Aquatic 
Resource Education Program (SAREP) 
provides incentives that encourage 
people to get outside and fish. 



This article has been posted in Spanish on 
our website, atwww.dgif.virginia.gov/ 
virginia-wildlife/special-feature.asp, 
thanks to Marisa Sanchez. Born in San 
Antonio, Texas, Marisa resides on the 
Eastern Shore with her family and serves 
the local migrant population as a Baptist 
missionary. 



JUNE 2011 ♦ 13 




Biologists continue 

to monitor the 

population in the 

Potomac River system. 



story & photos 
by King Montgomery 

nc of the many things 1 liked 
about being stationed with the 
U.S. Army in Ihailand in the 
early 1970s was the food. Bangkok is called 
the Venice of the Orient, and there were food 
markets and stalls everywhere, particularly 
along the inany canals that intersect tJie city. 



Some of the markets are, literally, dozens of 
boats tied to the banks filled with goods and 
comestibles. I'll eat most anything at least 
once, and that probably included partaking 
of one of the most popular fishes, the snake- 
head. Ihese primitive-looking creatures were 
kept moist while on display for sale, and they 
seemed to live a long time out of water. 

I wouldn't see snakeheads again until last 
year when I joined fisheries personnel from 



14 VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFisfiVA.conn 



the Department (DGIF) on electrofishing 
sample runs on Virginia tributaries of the 
tidal Potomac River in Fairfax County. And 
you know what? After all those years, snake- 
heads still taste pretty good. 

The Early Years 

The Northern snakehead (snakehead) has the 
Latin moniker, Channa argns, and it first 
showed up in our area when an angler 
hooked one on a lure in a small pond in 
Crofton, Maryland, in May 2002. Crofton is 
a short drive from Washington, DC. After 
months of a comical media feeding frenzy, fti- 
eled by a summer apparently devoid ol other 
worthy news, the Maryland Department of 
Natural Resources poisoned the pond — 
killing hundreds of adult, juvenile, and baby 
snakeheads. "Frankenfish" or "X-Files Fish," 
so dubbed by the ever-eager press, was no 
more, and the civilized world as we know it 
was saved. Or was it? 

In spring 2004, a bass fisherman caught 
the first known snakehead at the back of Lit- 
tle Hunting Creek. Subsequent electrofishing 
sampling by DGIF fisheries managers from 
the Fredericksburg regional office turned up 
more fish, including juveniles. 

The Potomac River population ol snake- 
heads continues to grow, and for the past sev- 
eral years the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has 
coordinated tagging studies by Virginia, 
Maryland, and the District of Columbia to 
learn more about the range of this invader 
and the effects it is having on the ecosystem. 
The study is not geared for a plan to eradicate 
the species — it's much too late for that — but 
rather, to manage the snakehead as an integral 
part of the Potomac River system. The snake- 
head is here to stay. 

DGIF fisheries biologists John 
Odenkirk and Steve Owens have been heavi- 
ly involved with the snakehead since 2004. In 
a 2007 paper for the Transactions of the Amer- 
ican Fisheries Society, they reported the snake- 
head was well established in the tidal 
Potomac River, and that at least eight year 
classes had been shocked up in sampling 
runs. Tlie fishes were aged by reading the an- 
nular markings on the otolith, an ear bone in 
fishes that can yield age estimates much as 
counting the rings ol a cross-section of a tree. 
The oldest fish was a little over 1 years of age, 
indicating the snakehead had been in the 
river since 1997 or 1998, which predates the 
Crofton pond event. 




Left, DGIF biologist John Odenkirk and technician Lila Warren show off their double catch of 
stunned NSH in Pohick Bay. Above, technician Patrick Snellings hefts a large one from Little 
Hunting Creek. 




Inserted just below the dorsal fin a numbered tag collects location and other data which 
are transmitted to the USFWS. 



A man of Asian decent admitted dump- 
ing the snakeheads into the Crofton pond 
when they became too large and too much to 
care for in his aquarium. He had purchased 
them live in a New York City fish market and 
brought them to this area. A similar event 
probably happened earlier in Dogue Creek, 
which appears to be the population epicenter 
of the Potomac River snakehead population. 



New Kid on the Block 

Female snakeheads carrying more than 
40,000 eggs can breed more than once a year 
if environmental conditions are favorable. 
Several of the 28 known species of snake- 
heads breed up to five times a year from 
spring through summer. Once hatched, baby 
snakeheads are kept close together and pro- 
tected by adults for up to seven or eight 



JUNE 2011 ♦ 15 




weeks. Snakeheads are particularly aggressive 
to anything that threatens their young during 
that time. 

The snakehead is a hardy creature that 
adapts to many conditions. It can remain out 
of water for a long time if kept wet. As an obli- 
gate air-breather, it extracts oxygen from the 
air using a system of chambers in its head 
where gases are processed. Contrary to press 
reports, the snakehead cannot 'walk' or 'fin' 
on land. 

These freshwater fishes are native to Asia, 
Malaysia, Indonesia, and tropical Africa. They 
are highly valued as a food source, and are ei- 
ther aiught in the wild or farm grown. They 
have been introduced into a number of coun- 
tries, including Japan, where the Northern 
snakehead is reputed to be the tastiest of all the 
snakeheads. 

Snakeheads are opportunistic feeders 
that consume mostly fish, but also eat crus- 
taceans, amphibians, and insects. In the Po- 
tomac River, the banded killifish (Fuiiduhts 
diaphanous) was the most common morsel 
turning up in stomach content andyses, fol- 
lowed by some bluegills, pumpkinseeds, and 
white perch. Iliese latter species comprised 
about 5 percent of the snakeheads menu. All 
other prey species, including largemouth bass, 
were eaten less than 1 percent of the time. 



Stomach content analyses of NSH have shown 
a preference for banded killifish (above). Even 
small NSH have a formidable array of teeth for 
seizing and grasping prey. 



Snakeheads continue to expand their 
range north and south of Fairfax County and 
across the Potomac into Maryland waters and 
tributaries, and they are well established in the 
1 1 miles of river from the Woodrow Wilson 
Bridge (Interstate 95/495) to Little Falls and 
in the Anacostia River, too. 

The snakehead has been documented 
from below Great Falls to the Chesapeake 
Bay, almost a 1 10-mile reach, and in the tidal 
tributaries of both Virginia and Maryland. It 
was thought that snakeheads couldn't live in 
the more brackish and salty waters of the 
lower Potomac or in the bay, but that appar- 
ently is not the case. Whether or not the 
snakehead makes it into the Chesapeake 
proper remains to be seen, but hopefully the 
higher salinity will be a barrier to further ex- 
pansion. 

Catch 'em 
Before They Catch You 

Despite at least two Hollywood movies that 
have giant snakeheads devouring people — 
think "Jaws" in fresh water — the snakehead 
only is aggressive when feeding or protecting 
their young in the weeks following birth of 
progeny. This aggression, not unlike that seen 
in largemouth bass and others, helps make 
the snakehead an excellent gamefish. It readi- 
ly attacks surface and subsurface lures and 
Hies and puts up a spirited fight both in the 
water and once boated or brought to shore. 
Ihese fish will do everything in their formida- 
ble power to not be landed, and can Hop out 
of a livewell or a net in a heartbeat. 

From spring through f;ill, snakeheads are 
foimd at the back of creeks in water less than 
three or four feet deep, and they move in and 
out of the creek backs with the tides. They 
seem to prefer aquatic vegetation, manmade 



structures such as boat docks and slips, and 
appear to like muddy, mucky bottoms. If you 
find one, usually there are a couple of others 
hanging nearby. 

As summer progresses, the non-indige- 
nous invasive plant, hydrilla, and other aquat- 
ic vegetation become so thick in the creeks 
that boats have a tough time getting in and 
out. Here, it is best to fish along the edges of 
the grass, perhaps in a shallow-draft watercraft 
such as a canoe or kayak. Big outboards can't 
make it in. 

Fish just as you would for largemouth 
bass, another non-native species by the way, 
with one very important exception: You'd bet- 
ter tie on about 8 to 1 2 inches of 20- to 30- 
pound test wire leader. These babies have a lot 
of sharp teeth, and they'll shake their heads 
something fierce when hooked. Use gloves or 
a Boga Grip-type device to land the fish or re- 
move it from a net. Once the fish is aboard or 
ashore, you have several options including re- 
leasing it, killing and discarding it, or killing it 
and keeping it for the dinner plate. If you keep 
the fish to take home, you must call the 
Snakehead Fish Hodine at 804-367-2925 
to report your catch and your possession of it. 
If the fish is tagged, call the number on the tag 
to report information on your catch. For more 
information, see: www.dgifvirginia.gov/ 
fishing/snakehead-faq.asp. 

According to Odenkirk and Owens, 
there is no bad way to cook a snakehead. The 
firm, white flesh holds up well to grilling, 
broiling, baking, or frying. The fish is difficult 
to fillet because of its anatomy, but I recom- 
mend removing the meat from the bones 
however you can. 

Invasive Organisms 

Exotic species introduced into the U.S. by ac- 
cident or by design can be good news or bad 
news; usually, the latter. Some of the more 
positive non-natives include brown trout, po- 
tatoes, corn, and honey bees. The nast)' inva- 
sives cost our economy several hundreds of 
billions of dollars a year to control or mitigate. 
Some of the costly ones of recent memory, in 
addition to the snakehead: gypsy moths, zebra 
mussels, phragmites, carp, and kudzu. 

Invasive animals can rearrange the food 
chain in an ecosystem to one degree or anoth- 
er, ;uid actually supplant or severely damage 
indigenous species. As far as we know, the 
snakehead has not impacted the Potomac 
River adversely, but perhaps it's just a matter of 



16 VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishiVA.com 



*%; 




DGIF fisheries biologists Steven Owens (L) and John Odenkirk (R) prepare to measure and tag a nice NSH captured by Executive 
Director Bob Duncan In Aqula Creek. 



more time. Or maybe the fish will just inte- 
grate smoothly into the mix and not be a 
problem. Meanwhile, the DGIF and other 
natural resource agencies will continue to 
monitor their population. 

A very recent risk analysis study of the 
Northern snakehead reports the animal could 
populate every state in the Union, including 
the Southeast and parts of the main peninsula 
of Alaska, and could survive in the lower tier 
of all the Canadian provinces. Laws are being 
strengthened in both countries and within 
states and provinces to severely punish any- 
one moving snakeheads and other invasives 
into non-infected waters. 



It is spring and I'm sitting in a DGIF 
electrofishing boat, chugging along Aquia 
Creek. Biologist John Odenkirk is driving 
and a plastic pink flamingo, once detritus in 
the Potomac River, is attached to the con- 
sole. Up front with long-handled nets in 
hand are DGIF folks, Steve Owens and 
Patrick Snellings and Mike Isel (somedmes 
fisheries intern Lila Warren or volunteer Joe 
Wilkerson join in). On this particular sam- 
pling trip, DGIF Executive Director Bob 
Duncan joined us, and he worked hard 
scooping up numerous snakeheads. I suspect 



he was having so much fijn he didn't want to 
go back to the office. 

Yes, the Northern snakehead is here to 
stay — barring some unforeseen and highly 
unlikely natural catastrophe that eradicates it. 
I find them very interesting creatures, with a 
strong will to survive. Their blotched camou- 
flage markings are appealing, they fight like 
the devil when hooked, and they taste real 
good. How bad can that be? ?f 

Frequent contributor King Montgomery has a degree in 
fisheries biology. He is alwiiys ready to meet new fish. 
Contact him at kinganglerl @aol. com. 



JUNE 2011 ♦ 17 



:^^ 





% 






Cs^OMtr 



photoessay 
by Lynda Richardson 

/ iving along the James River in the city, it's hard to believe how 
c^' ^ lucky Richmonders are. Besides a beautiful river full offish to 
catch, rapids to paddle, and trails to hike, we have an enormous amount 
of wildlife making the river their home. But there is one bird in particu- 
lar that never fails to take my breath away. Whether cruising the river for 
a meal, soaring high overhead, or sitting majestically in a tree overseeing 
its kingdom, the bald eagle reigns supreme as our James River ambassa- 
dor to the power and beauty that this river embodies. 



Page 18 top: While eating fish, sometimes the bones get stuck in the eagle's throat. Here, 
Bandit looks like she's calling but is really just working the bones down. Canon EOS SOD 
digital camera, Canonl00-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS zoom lens, ISO 320, l/250th, f/6.3. 

Left, Smokey and Bandit sit in a tree near their nest. If an intruder is spotted, watch out! 
Eagles aggressively protect their territory. Canon EOS SOD digital camera, CanonlOO- 
400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS zoom lens, ISO 200, l/800th, f/7.1. 




Above, eagles are all about eating, and watching eagles grab fish from the water is an 
exciting photographic challenge. Canon EOS SOD digital camera. Canon 100-400mm 
f/4.5-5.6 IS zoom lens, ISO 250, 1/lOOOth, f/6.3. 

JUNE 2011 ♦ 19 




riving to the spit of land that curls out into the 
southern waters of the James can make a person 
think they've reached the end of the earth. And 
when you cross over the berm that forms the western bound- 
ary of Fishouse Bay, youVe pretty sure you have. But 
continue on. At the end of the road where the break- 
ers wash up against large boulders, you get out of the 
car and peer across the whitecaps to a lush, modern land- 
scape: high-end, gated communities marking the outskirts of Colo- 
nial Williamsburg and the famed Busch Gardens. You are standing 
on Hog Island Wildlife Management Area (WMA) — several life- 
times removed from that world across the mighty river. 

It was here, due east of Jamestown Island, that settlers kept their 
hogs and other livestock, according to accounts from the young 
colony. IJie land was purchased by the Game Commission in 1 95 1 , 
courtesy of Pittman-Robertson funds. Its appeal as a refuge was 
two-fold: to maintain the island as a protected waterfowl feeding 
and nesting ground; and to draw waterfowl to surrounding lands 
and, in so doing, improve hunting in the area. 



20 VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFlshVA.com 





A stiff breeze sweeps across the 
lower James, bringing birds and ducks 
to tfiis magnificent outpost. 




Sally Hills 



Today, Hog Island WMA spans some 3,900 acres but 
actually was pieced together by three tracts of land: Hog Is- 
land, the Stewart parcel, and the Carlisle property. Its im- 
mediate proximity to the Surry Nuclear Power Plant 
provides some expected irony, and that's not lost on supervi- 
sor John Randolph. Randolph, who's been overseeing the 
2,900 acres of planted fields and 8 impoundments since 
early 2002, acknowledges the apparent incongruity. Yet, 
spoil from the power plant construction provided the bal- 
last for dikes at these impoundments. From Randolph's 
perch on Hog Island, life has been pretty sweet. 

Sweet, that is, until Hurricane Isabel delivered in 2003 
a full force punch that brought over four feet of water and 
80-mph winds to the area. If you look carefully, you can still 
see the water mark on the utility building that houses several 
bays of earth-moving equipment. The storm tore the roof 






m 









off the office, damaged the lengthy storage 
facility, swamped engine parts with debili- 
tating salt water, and scattered boats, trailers, 
tools, and decoys (64 dozen, that is) to the 
far reaches of the planted field directly be- 
hind it. In true grit st)'le, Randolph arranged 
for local prisoners to fetch and restring the 
duck and goose decoys. 

The federal government, through 
FEMA, and Ducks Unlimited provided fi- 
nancial resources while Department staff 
and volunteers supplied the manpower to 
restore the battered shoreline. Over the years 
since, plants like three-square, Walter's mil- 
let, spikerush, and smartweed — those that 
define a coastal scrub community — have 
slowly returned. 

The Mission 

Today the island is managed primarily for 
waterfowl hunting, which takes place Sep- 
tember through January. Three managed 



resident goose and teal hunts occurred last 
September, and ten waterlowl quota hunts 
took place November through January. 
Those lucky enough to be selected to partici- 
pate in a randomly drawn hunt can count on 
a well executed event, an experience — it is 
clear — that tops Randolph's list of priorities. 
And he has a long list. 

Deer are hunted during limited seasons 
here, too, mostly to keep their numbers in 
check. Dove and other small game offer addi- 
tional hunting opportunities. The list of wild 
animals that reside or pass through is quite 
impressive, indeed. Behind the wheel of his 
truck, Randolph points to various spots on 
the horizon line and ticks off sightings from 
earlier days: deer, bobcat, black bear, turkey, 
raccoon, rabbit, mink, muskrat. . . others. 

And he hasn't even started on the birds, 
many of which travel this stretch of the At- 
lantic Flyway during spring and fall migra- 
tions. Thousands of tourists also make their 



Operations at Hog Island 

□ September: 

• Closed on Wednesdays for managed hunts. 

• Open for non-fiunting activities all other days, sunrise to sunset. 

□ September 30 - February 1: 

• Quota hunts in progress (by permit only). 

• Open Sundays only for non-hunting activities, sunrise to sunset. 
I_l February 2 -August 31: 

• Open for non-hunting activities seven days a week, sunrise to sunset. 

For more detailed information, go to: www/.dgif.virginia.gov/wmas/detail.a$p?pid=4. 




way to this outpost each year, armed with 
nothing more than binoculars and field 
guides in hand. They travel from as far as Nor- 
way but many, of course, come from Virginia 
and other mid-Atlantic points. Three bald 
eagle nests are active on the island, and the list 
of resident or migrating birds grows each 
year — from red-winged blackbirds, egrets, 
and herons to offshore varieties, like cor- 
morants and brown pelicans. Raised viewing 
platforms, along with a series of trails, appe;il 
to these birders and other wildlife watchers. 

Managing for Waterfowl 

What does it take to manage for waterfowl? 
John Randolph seems to know, instinctively. 
At its core, managing for any species of 
wildlife means learning the rhythms of the 
seasons, the weather patterns that ensue, and 
working with forces such as tides and seasonal 
migrations. Understanding habitat need is es- 
sential, of course, and site conditions can 
change slowly over time — requiring a keen 
eye and occasional intervention. Here on the 
island, vegetation had been relatively constant 
until invasive phragmites took hold. Fighting 
the intrusion of non-native flora is a constant 
challenge and one that state budgets can rarely 
keep up with. But Randolph tries. Periodic 
use of herbicides is key. Without them, the 
sandy hummocks would become a monotone 
of tall grasses waving their wispy, cream-col- 
ored heads in the perennial breeze — gorgeous 
to look at, but offering little to no nutritional 
benefit to ducks and other critters. 

Another important piece of the steward- 
ship regime involves moist soil management, 
or controlling the level of water in the im- 
poundments. Working with spring rains, staff 
employ a series of devices throughout the im- 
poundments, called Carolina rice trunks, to 
capture the rainwater rolling in from across 
the watershed. When water levels have natu- 
tiilly dropped, those rice trunks are lifted to 
coax estuarine water back into the ponds dur- 
ing high tides. It's a balancing act, for sure, but 
Randolph appears to have it well in hand. 
When those wooden locks are raised, fish like 
channel cats and carp can also find their way 
into the network of creeks. So, too, does the 
occasional blue crab and other saltwater mi- 
grants. Tliese are the unexpected, bonus me;ils 
snapped up by the white egrets and great blue 
herons ever present. 



A youth waterfowl hunt is held at Hog Island in October Right, a Carolina rice trunk helps 
moderate water levels at the WMA. 



22 VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 



The fruits of Randolph's labors are readi- 
ly apparent; DGIF staff have created what is 
recognized across Virginia as one of the finest 
waterfowl management areas here. Hunters 
jimip at the chance to show their apprecia- 
tion. Mallards, wigeon, pintails, green- and 
blue-winged teal, canvasbacks, redheads, gad- 
wall, scaup, and Canada geese are among the 
numerous species hunted throughout the sea- 
son — when, thankfiilly, the notoriously large 
mosquitoes and greenhead flies have died out. 
During a typical hunt, Randolph's early 
morning breakfast is followed by a safety 
briefing, blind drawing, and then a comfort- 
able ride to the impoundments. At each blind 
a small boat and several dozen decoys await 
hunters. They spend about five hours in their 
blinds scanning the skies and calling to weary 
waterfowl before John returns to chauffeur 
them back to the office to change out of their 
hunting garb. Then, tales of fast-moving birds 
and slow-shooting hunters unfold. 



Targeting 
the Next Generation 

A youth waterfowl hunt tiikes place in mid- 
October, and several partners work together 
to make that a memorable event. Tlie 
Wildlife Foundation of Virginia sponsors 
the day, taking care of logistics and door 
prizes. Last season, Richmond-based Green 
Top donated hats and other merchandise. 
Hunter education instructors and DGIF vol- 
unteers make sure that no one goes home 
empty-handed. During the October 2010 
hunt, a dozen kids took 1 4 ducks and 2 geese. 
Here on Hog Island the participants are lav- 
ished with praise and encouragement. WMA 
staff and volunteer mentors understand: 
These kids represent the future of the hunt- 
ing tradition. 

John Randolph clearly has a soft spot for 
this annual celebration. Brought up in a 
household where hunting and fishing were 



basic to the meals on the table, he deeply ap- 
preciates the knowledge imparted by his 
dad to him at a very young age. Wildlife 
"quizzes" ofiien took place during car rides 
to a favorite patch ofwoods or fishing hole. 

Perhaps John conveys it best when, at 
the end of our time together, he repeats 
something his wife heard in a phone call 
from a young hunter's mother after the wa- 
terfowl day. When the woman asked her 
son if he had a good time on the hunt, he 
answered: "This is the greatest time I've ever 
had in my life." 

"If I can provide a kid with that... 
well, I've cHone my job, " John says, with just 
the hint of a smile. ?f 



Editor Sally Mills enjoys any opportunity to get 
outdoors, especially to kayak, fish, or tend her 
honeybees. She plans to tackle fly-fishing lessons 
thisfall. 




JUNE 2011 ♦ 23 






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story & photos 
by Bruoe Ingram 



/ hir 

M Vii 

I N( 



hink of the far western 
Virginia Clinch River in 
NCAA basketball terms. 
Whereas major conference teams such as 
UNC, Duke, Virginia, and Virginia Tech 
garner much of the attention — much like 
the states major rivers, the New, James, 
Shenandoah, and Potomac — mid-major 
teams like Buder, VCU, and George Mason 
can showcase their talent when given a 
chance (just as mid-major rivers such as the 
Maury and Rapidan do) . 

The Clinch River is another one of the 
commonwealths mid-major rivers that has 
much to offer from its origins in Tazewell 
Coimty along its course through Russell, 
Wise, and Scott counties. Fisheries biologist 
Tom Hampton with the Department 
(DGIF) certainly thinks so. 

While true that the Clinch, like most 
other drainages in Virginia, has some water 
quality issues with runoff from mining, in- 
dustrial, agricultural, and residential 
sources, Hampton maintains, "The Clinch 
is a wonderful resource. It has some fairly 
unique fisheries for Virginia [with] sauger 
and freshwater drum [being] two of the 
more unusual species." 

Hampton adds that a new state record 
sauger that weighed three pounds was 
caught on April 24, 2010 by Ronald Davis 
of Duffield. And another attribute of the 
fishery is its amazing diversity, as small- 
mouth, largemouth, and spotted bass all 
dwell there along with walleye, rock bass, 
redbreast, longear, and bluegill sunfish, plus 
musky and black crappie. The biologist also 



Spectacular rock faces like this one are 
common along the Clinch, as are the 
heavily wooded banks (R). 



24 



reports that channel and flathead catfish exist 
in good numbers and sizes. 

Possible Float Trips 

The DGIF Usts 13 possible floats for the 
Clinch from Blackford to the Tennessee state 
line. I specifically asked Hampton about an 
excursion with good numbers of brown bass. 

"I would recommend the higher gradi- 
ent floats for smallmouth, and maybe one of 
the other floats for a variety of other species," 
says the biologist. "Blackford to Puckett Hole 
in Russell Coimty would be an excellent float 
for smallmouth. Then a float somewhere 
around Dungannon, Fort Blackmore, or 
Clinchport would give some perspective from 
the lower reaches of the river." 

Other sections that offer the higher gra- 
dient that brown bass crave include Puckett 
Hole to Nash's Ford (two falls exist, portages 
required), Burton's Ford to Miller's Yard, 
Miller's Yard to Dungannon, and Dungan- 
non to Route 659. 

Exploring the Clinch 

Every June fellow Botetourt County school 
teachers Tim Wimer, Doak Harbison, and I 
venture forth on a float trip. Last June we 



chose to explore the Clinch with Steve 
Cheers who operates Mountain Sports in 
Bristol. Based on Tom Hampton's recom- 
mendations, we opted to run from Blackford 
to Puckett Hole the first day, camp out on the 
river, then go from Burton's Ford to Miller's 
Yard. 

"A lot of even local people don't know 
how good the fishing and paddling is on the 
Clinch," says Cheers as we drive to the put-in. 
"Folks here drive right over the Clinch on 
their ways to the North Fork of the Holston 
or the New River because of their trophy 
smallmouth reputations. " 

Earlier when I had stopped in at the 
Lebanon library, director Kelly McBride said 
the same thing, adding that she and her hus- 
band infrequently saw other folks floating the 
river. 

If bucolic settings and bird watching are 
two of the aspects that add to the experience 
when you float a river, then the Clinch will 
certainly satisfy you. Much of the river flows 
by farms that rest on steep mountain hill- 
sides, and I tallied 24 bird species before we 
had ventured 1 00 yards from the Blackford 
put-in. 

"The Blackford trip is typical of much of 
the river as far as what people will encounter," 
continues Cheers. "You'll float through some 




Doak Harbison of Botetourt County holds a 
fine Clinch! River smallmouth. 




JUNE 2011 ♦ 25 



• *?vli.^ . V- 







Like many Virginia rivers, the Clinch features water willow beds that draw game fish. 



heavily wooded areas, come to a mountain- 
side catde farm, then maybe by some fields, 
then drift through some more deep woods 
with a rock face or two." 

That diversity of habitat explains why 
the bird watching is so good. I hear red-eyed 
vireos, scarlet tanagers, and wood thrushes 
in the deep forest; yellow-throated vireos, 
Louisiana waterthrushes, and Baltimore ori- 
oles along the river; thicket loving white- 
eyed vireos, and yellow-breasted chats as we 
meander past overgrown fields; and Caroli- 
na wrens seemingly everywhere. 

In the afternoon, Doak Harbison is the 
first to spot a pair of bald eagles, and Cheers 
excitedly exclaims that this is the first time in 
his many years of floating the river that he 
has spied this raptor. I note more painted 
turtles than on any Old Dominion river 1 
have run this decade, and we observe a 
striped skunk that has been displaced by a 
farmers haying machine. 

Meanwhile the fishing is just as entic- 
ing. In early afternoon, as I am working a 
Case Magic Stik along a rock-laden shore- 
line direcdy below a Class 1 rapid, the rod 
bows and the line veers toward mid-river. A 
while later, I land a fine 15-inch smallie, 
which turns out to be our best fish of the day, 



although Harbison loses a 16-inch brown 
bass that smashes a Rapala jointed minnow, 
and an even bigger bronzeback takes a swipe 
at my Rapala Original. 

Steve Cheers is among a new breed of 
float fishermen who prefer to fly fish from a 
kayak, and he steadily entices smallmouth 
bass and rock bass with poppers, streamers, 
and nymphs. Around 5:00 RM., the sky dark- 
ens, and I mistakenly credit that occurrence 
to the fact that we are floating through a 
gorge. But then thunder erupts and, propi- 
tiously, we spot a farmhouse on river left just 
75 yards downstream. 

Hoping to wait out the storm on the 
structure's front porch and, to paraphrase 
Tennessee Williams, "always depending on 
the kindness of strangers" while floating 
rivers, 1 knock on the door. Eighty-six-year- 
old Nana Helton Webber greets me, and 1 ask 
her what are her favorite things about living 
on the river. 

"Ihe mussels," she immediately replies. 
"Everybody around here knows that we have 
more mussels than anywhere else in the 
world. 

"My great, great grandfather, Fulton 
Hess, built this house in 1882, but he sold the 
place to Henry Honaker in the early 1 9()()s. It 



was Honaker who built a grist mill here, but 
all that's left are the stones. My grandfadier, 
Edward Helton, bought the land back in 
1919 and that's why I'm living here today. 
The Hesses own that red farmhouse upriver 
too." 

The storm temporarily abates. We bid 
farewell to someone we are already calling 
"Nana" and quickly paddle to the Puckett 
Hole take-out. There, I record the 46''' bird 
species of the day (a great-crested flycatcher) 
and meet a family that has come to the river 
for an evening of fishing. 

They are the only folks we've seen on the 
river all day, and when I ask them where they 
are from and what they are fishing for, the fa- 
ther replies: "From over the hump," and, 
"anything that bites," respectively, llie rain 
begins, night falls, and upon arriving back at 
the Blackford access point, we find that a 
sycamore has fallen on Steve's tote vehicle, 
crushing it. lliat and the rising, muddy 
water ensure that there will be no day two on 
the Clinch — this year. But it's a cinch that I'll 
return to the Clinch again. ?f 

Bruce hiff-iim has authored many river guide hooks. 
His Litest hook is Fly and Spin Fishing/or Riivr 
Smalhnonths. For more information, contact him 
at he in ff am QbjuHO. com. 



26 



VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 



; ■^*^- 












Steve Cheers admires a fine Clinch River rock bass. 



A --x 



Trip Planning 



• Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority: \A/ww.heartofappalachia.com. 

• Mountain Sports offers current fishing information, best fly patterns for the river, 
and guided trips: www.mountainsportsltd.com, 276-466-8988. 

• DGIF Float Fishing Guide to the Clinch: www.dgif.virginia.gov/fishing/waterbodies 
/display.asp?id=147&section=maps. Steve Cheers says that best fishing occurs 
when the river runs between 400 and 500 cfs at the Cleveland gauge. ^^ 



y/ Maps: Terrain Navigator Pro: www.maptech.com. I always use MapTech'stopo 
maps when planning a rivertrip. /^ 



Fun Facts^bout 
the Clinch 



W 



1^ 



^fje 



• Sucker shooting season runs from April 15 to May 31 in Scott County 

• Daniel Boone explored and floated the Clinch River. 

• Tom Hampton says that the waterway hosts about 50 species of 
mussels, which is more than any other river in the world, and 
over 100 species of nongame fish, mostly minnows and darters. 

• Native Americans called the river the Pellissippi, which means 
"winding waters." 




^% 



A^ 



27 




wm 



Mffii 



2010 Angler 
Hall of Fame 

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' Hall 
of Fame list is a compilation of all the freshwater anglers 
who qualified for advanced awards in the Angler Recognition 
Program. 
To achieve the status of Master Angler I, five trophy fish of different species must be caught and reg- 
istered with the Virginia Angler Recognition Program. For Master II, 10 trophy fish of different species 
must be caught, and so on for the Master III or IV level. Expert anglers must catch and register 10 trophy 
fish of the same species. 

Each angler that accomplishes this feat receives a Master Angler or Expert Angler certificate and 
patch. Expert patches include the species on the patch. There is no fee or application for Master or 
Expert. 

If you have records prior to 1995 and believe you may have obtained this angling status, please call 
the Virginia Angler Recognition Program at (804) 367-9149 to have your records checked. 

The Creel-of-the-Year Award recognizes the angler who accounts for the most trophy-size fish caught 
and registered in the Angler Recognition Program from January 1 through December 31, annually. 



MASTER 
LEVEL I 

Punk Baker 
Gerald Baker, Sr 
Joseph Barnes 
Barry Belcher 
Robert Blanks 
Michael Bowling 
Robin Boyd 
Franklin Brown, Sr. 
Robert Burnette 
Christopher Burris 
Floyd Byrd, Sr. 
Bobby Carr 
Keith Carroll 
Dana Cash 

Donald Chervenak, Jr. 
James Clifton, Jr. 
Paul Craighead 
Robert Davies 
David Davis 
WesDennen 
Michael Draper 
K. W. Flowers 
Eric Foster 
Wesley Gibson 
Lawrence Hansford 
Charles Harless 
Thomas Hawley, Jr. 
Ronnie Heath 
Robert Hensley 
David Houchins, Sr. 
Anthony Ingram 



Charles Jarvis,Sr. 
Michael Katcham 
Mark Lane 
Justin Largen 
Daniel Larson 
Richard Lauderman 
Wayne Lewis 
Jacob Lusk 
Rocky Mabe 
Jerry Mabry 
Ralph Magee,Jr 
David Major, Jr. 
Robert Manning 
Nathan Martin 
Leon Mettler 
Joseph Miltier, Jr. 
Tony Mitchell 
Tim Moyer 
Steven Mozucha 
Benjamin Mullins 
Spencer Musick 
Alexander Nazaruk 
John Nettles 
Richard Newton 
Walter Obst 
Kenneth Otte 
Raymond Pace 
Kelsy Padgett 
Richie Palmer 
Thomas Panko,Jr 
Norman Pearce 
George Peters 
Marvin Ponton, Jr 
Kenneth Powers, Jr 



William Reichard 
Jerry Reynolds 
Luke Rush 
JohnSchutte 
Dennis Sclater 
ChadShipe 
Steven Stoupa 
Michael Strickland 
Robert Suddarth 
Scott Torgerson 
Randall Tucker 
Terry Wagner 
Ronald Walker 
Lyndell Woods 
Amy Worrell 
Linwood Wright 

Master Level II 

Dorothy Brandon 
Darian Brown 
Michael Campbell 
Jimmie Edwards 
Hal Hampton, Jr 
Michael Heflin,Sr 
Michael Keller 
JackKoller 
John Woods 

Master Level III 

John Lukomski, III 

Master Level IV 

Stephen Miklandric 



EXPERTS 

Largemouth Bass 

John Bodmer 
William Brandon 
Frank Butz 
Bruce Gilley 
Ronald Graves, Sr 
Michael Greene 
Christian Harner 
Scott Hewett 
Jackie Jones 
Larry Lindsay, Jr. 
Jacob Lusk 
Robert McDaniel 
Tony Mitchell 
Gene Moubray 
Richard Nelson 
Edgar Pettry, II 
Anton Price 
Anthony Smith 
Christopher Wells 
James Wood 
Chad Woodson 

Smallmouth Bass 

Mark Childress 
Bernard Harvey 
JoeLugar,Jr 
Robert Streeby 
Charles Toney, II 

Crappie 

Robert Davies 
Gary Miller, Jr 



Rock Bass 

Leonard Corum 

Sunfish 

Jayton Billups 
TamiroChozu 
Brette Cox 
Robert Jimerson, Jr. 
Marcus Mitchell 
Steven Mitchell 
Gary Poole 
Kenneth Runyon,Jr 
Daniel Salvitti 
Michael Strickland 
Joseph Vick, Jr. 
David Visocky 

Striped Bass 

John Thomas 

White Perch 

Stephen Miklandric 

Channel Catfish 

Duane Barlow 

Blue Catfish 

Thomas Athey 
James Butler, II 
Chris Dovel 
Beverly Gillespie 
Linford Harrell 
Charles Jarvis,Jr 
Charles Jarvis,Sr 
Robert Jimerson, III 
Ralph Magee,Jr 
Michael Mingee 
William Nicar 
Brooks Noble 
Jason Study 
Richard Sutton, Sr 
Walter Walker, Jr 

Flathead Catfish 

Franklin Dalton 
Jonathan Linens 
Robert Stottlemyer 

Rainbow Trout 

Harold Bayne 
Milton Bowling 
James Dolly, Jr 
Bruce Hildebrand 
Kevin Huffer 
Stevie Knight, Jr. 



28 



VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com 



Jerrold Pike 
Robert Pike 
Kathy Reynolds 
Mark Shaw 
Stephen Spencer 

Brook Trout 

Howard Farris 
Thomas Panko, Jr. 
Darlene Simmons 
Jacob Truman 
Jonathan Woods 



Brown Trout 

Billy Brads 

Chain Pickerel 

James Brown, Sr 
JackieJones 
Richard Shelton 
Roy Taylor 

Muskellunge 

Robert Burnette 
James Gray, Jr. 
Jeffrey Shell 



Walleye 

Kenneth Grubbs, Sr 

Yellow Perch 

Steve Clements 
Arthur Conway 
Robert Estep, Jr. 
David Forbes 
Robert Hensley 
JackKoller 
Wayne Lewis 
Kenneth McKinney 
Stephen Robbins, Sr 



Kenneth Runyon, Sr 
Kenneth Runyon, Jr 
John Scott 
Michael Vaughan 
David Visocky 
John Woods 

Gar 

Robert Magette 
Matthew Miller 

Creel Award 

Stephen Miklandric (103) 



Largemouth Bass (2), 
SmallmouthBass(4), 
Crappie(l), Rock Bass 
(5), Sunfish (22), Striped 
Bass (2), White Perch (5), 
Channel Catfish (3), Blue 
Catfish (3), Rainbow 
Trout (26), Brook Trout 
(1), Brown Trout (1), 
Chain Pickerel (5), 
Muskellunge (3), Wall- 
eye (1), Yellow Perch 
(16),Gar(l), Bowfin(l) 



201 ANGLERS OF THE YEAR 



SPECIES/SIZE 

Largemouth Bass, 13 lbs. 9 oz., 27% in. 

Smallmouth Bass, 6 lbs. 10 oz., 23>4 in. 
Smallmouth Bass, 6 lbs. 10 oz., 22 in. 

Crappie, 4 lbs. 8 oz., 18 in. 

Rock Bass, 1 lbs. 11 oz., 12]^ in. 

Sunfish, 2 lbs. 15 oz., 13% in. 

White Bass, 3 lbs. 3oz., 20 in. 

Hybrid Striper, 10 lbs., 28 in. 

Freshwater Drum, 14 lbs. 2 oz., 27/2 in. 

Striped Bass, 38 lbs., 41 in. 

White Perch, 2 lb. 

Channel Catfish, 29 lbs. 12 oz., 38% in. 

Blue Catfish, 85 lbs., 49 in. 

Flathead Catfish, 58 lbs. 7 oz. 46/2. In. 

Rainbow Trout, 15 lbs. 2 oz. 

Brook Trout, 7 lbs. 8 oz., 22/ in. 

Brown Trout, 15 lbs. 6 oz. 

Chain Pickerel, 5 lbs. 3 oz. 

Muskellunge, 42 lbs. 52/ in. 

Northern Pike, 8 lbs. 1 oz., 34 in. 

Walleye, 10 lbs., 28/ in. 

Yellow Perch, 3 lbs., 16/ in. 

Gar, 22 lbs. 6 oz. 

Bowfin, 12 lbs. 8 oz., 33 in. 

Carp, 44 lbs. 8 oz., 43 in. 



ANGLER'S NAME/HOME 

Anthony Smith, Gretna 

David Kees, Rich Creek 
Johnny Martin, Moneta 

Donnie Giles, Lynchburg 

Kenneth Rigney, Hurt 

Johnny Thomas, Grundy 

Chandra Martin, South Boston 

Garry Farmer, Clintwood 

Donald Estes, Henrico 

Anthony Smith, Gretna 

Alan Strbavy, Sr., Virginia Beach 

Christopher Waybright, New Kent 

Charles Jarvis, Sr, Waynesboro 

Dyrlwood Hodges, Jr, Ferrum 

Mark Eavers, Greenville 

Jonathan Woods, Buena Vista 

Mark Eavers, Greenville 

Robert Jimerson, Jr., Glen Allen 

Mitchell Dowdy, Blacksburg 

Guy Woods, Broadway 

Thomas Jackson, Sr, Abingdon 

George Mullins, Haysi 

Leonard Corum, Dolphin 

James Batten, Chesapeake 

Shaun Fleming, Suffolk 



BODY OF WATER 

Leesville Lake 

New River 

Smith Mountain Lake 

Private Pond 

Staunton River 

Flannagan Reservoir 

Hyco River 

Flannagan Reservoir 

Lake Gaston 

Leesville Lake 

Elizabeth River 

Pamunkey River 

James River 

Buggs Island Lake 

Private Pond 

Hemlock Springs 

Private Pond 

Chickahominy Lake 

New River 

Lake Laura 

S. F. Holston River 

Flannagan Reservoir 

Lake Gaston 

Northwest River 

Private Pond 



DATE 

04/28/2010 

07/27/2010 
05/23/2010 

04/10/2010 

11/04/2010 

03/29/2010 

04/04/2010 

06/10/2010 

04/08/2010 

05/08/2010 

12/08/2010 

07/18/2010 

10/09/2010 

05/02/2010 

06/05/2010 

10/15/2010 

06/05/2010 

02/22/2010 

01/16/2010 

04/10/2010 

05/29/2010 

03/08/2010 

06/02/2010 

06/30/2010 

04/23/2010 



PLEASE NOTE: You can find all you need to know about the Trophy Fish Program at 
www.dgif.virginia.gov/fishing/trophy/ or call 804-367-9149. 



JUNE 2011 ♦ 29 



AFIELD AND AFLOAT 




Outdoor 
Classics 

by 
^eik Htfttr 



Wade Fishing the Rappahannock River 
of Virginia & Wade Fishing the Rapidan 
River of Virginia 

by Steve Moore 

2011, 2010 CatchGuide Books/Calibrated 

Consulting, Inc. 

Photographs, maps, and GPS coordinates 

$14.95 paper, $9.95 eBook version 

www.switchfisher.com 

"Relyhig on foot power provides an angler a 
colossal advantage given the ebb and flow of the 
river during the summer. . . wading actually al- 
lows you to spend more time fishing the good 
spots. " 

-Steve Moore 

Author Steve Moore is a self-described hard- 
core, terminally addicted fisherman, and 
these new guides to wade fishing the Rapidan 
and Rappahannock reflect his intimate 
knowledge of these productive rivers. If you'll 
take the time to study these vokmies before 
setting out, you will derive great benefit, as 
Steve has quite literally done all of the leg- 
work and reconnaissance for you. 

Whether the quarry is trout, shaci, or 
smalimouth bass, Steve's guides will get you 
on the right waters with a minimum of guess- 
work; you'll spend more time fishing and less 
time determining right-ol-way, hunting 
down prime access points, or fruitlessly 
searching for fishing sweet spots. 

Steve shares information on water vol- 
umes and flow and the best times to fish, and 
he has devised a truly helpful system of coded 
tables that rate each lishing area — covering 
everything from scenery, structure quality, 
population pressure, parking, and, for the fly 
angler, whether the terrain and surrounding 
vegetation is backcast friendly. 



He also thoughtfully includes informa- 
tion on the difficulty of the terrain and the 
stability of the river bottom for anglers who 
may be concerned about the fitness level re- 
quired to comfortably fish each river. This se- 
lect data is also compiled in the form of 
convenient, overall summaries of each desti- 
nation, giving anglers a distinct advantage. 

Last, but certainly not least, are the de- 
tailed photographs, keyed maps, and GPS 
coordinates that will guide you along the wav. 
It's almost as if Steve is sitting beside you on 
the front seat of your truck, giving you driv- 
ing directions, friendly gear tips, and miscel- 
laneous sage advice. 

These companionable volumes could 
only have been written by someone who 
knows these rivers personally and who is un- 
selfishly hard-wired to share their secrets with 
us. Highly recommended. 

Congratulations 
Young Writers 

The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association 
announced the winners of their student writ- 
ing competitions during their annual meet- 
ing at Bear Creek Lake State Park, April 1 4th. 
Congratulations to the following high-school 
students: 

• First-place winner, Toshali Randev, a 
Freshman at Briar Woods High School 
in Loudoun Counry, with her story. My 
Side of the Mountain. 

• Second-place winner. Hunter Devall, a 
Sophomore at lunstall High School in 
Pittsylvania County, with his story. 
Wheat Field Giant. 

• Third-place winner, Alex Pearce, a Jun- 
ior at Randolph-Henry High School in 
Charlotte County, with his story, Holy 
Mackerel. 

And, kudos to winners of the collegiate writ- 
ing competition: 

• First-place winner, Mallory laylor, a 
Junior at Ferrum C^ollegc, lor her storw 
Recreation Leadership: Where Business 
Meets Adventure. 

• Second-place winner, Brandon Fair, a 
Sophomore at Virginia lech, for his 
story, Canadian Pinholes. 



First-place stories will be shared in fiiture is- 
sues of this magazine. VOWA thanks the par- 
ents and teachers who inspired their students 
to enter the contest, the judges, and the sup- 
porting organizations who donated prizes 
and cash awards to the winners. 




Alex Pearce (L) and Huntc 



Fishin g pqy^ 




TAKt m HSHf(^Cf! 



30 



VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishiVA.com 



Bringing Nature 
Indoors 

Shenandoah River State Park, located approxi- 
mately 8 miles outside of Front Royal, opened 
1 1 cabins in July, 20 1 0. The addition of these 
new facilities allows park guests to enjoy a 
comfortable stay in the beautiful Shenandoah 
Valley, with spectacular views of the river and 
mountains. And though one only has to step 
outside the door to enjoy the tranquil sur- 
roundings here, we wanted our guests to feel 
immersed in the natural world when inside 
their cabins, as well. 

In order to accomplish this goal, the park 
decided that each cabin would be outfitted 
with pictures — according to a different theme. 
These had to be really special pictures: ones 
that truly reflected the beauty of the plants and 
animals found in the park. Jackie Labovitz, a 
park volunteer and a Virginia WiUlife photog- 
raphy contest winner, came up with a wonder- 
ful idea. 




As a professional photographer, Mrs. 
Labovitz has many of her photographs en- 
larged and printed on canvas for display dur- 
ing exhibitions. She suggested that we might 
do the same for our cabin picture project, 
using some of the gorgeous photos found in 
Virginia Wil/ilife. When contacted, many of 
the magazine's photography contest winners 
generously agreed to donate their work for this 
purpose. The wonderful folks who con- 
tributed to this project include Mundy Hack- 
ett, Harold Jerrell, Jim Kirby, Joe Mikus, Ricky 
Simpson, Jackie Labovitz, and Ruimin Wang. 

Thanks to these contributors, a beautiflil 
canvas hangs over the fireplace in each cabin. 
Guests really appreciate the indoor scenery — 
making their stay at the park even more mem- 
orable. This cabin project is just one more way 
for visitors to experience just how wonderful 
Virginia really is! 

Tljis article was contributed by Shenandoah River 
State Park staff. 




IMAGE OF THE MONTH 



Sign Up to Help 
Survey! 

The Virginia Herpetological Society 
(VHS) will hold a special survey at Old 
Colchester Park in Fairfax County on Sat- 
urday, June 4.Tlie VHS has been invited to 
conduct a survey by the Fairfax County 
Park Authority on a recently acquired 
property on Mason Neck, called Old 
Colchester Park. This vvill be a one-day sur- 
vey to help the park authority inventory 
their natural resources on site. Old Colch- 
ester Park is 140 acres and is currently 
closed to the pubhc. This means that the 
VHS is giving you access to sites where 
other herpers are not permitted! Contact 
John Orr (jorrl@gmu.edu) for informa- 
tion. 

VHS will hold its Sixth Annual Herp- 
Bhtz at Hungry Mother State Park on June 
24-26. As usual, the main survey day will be 
on Saturday (June 25) and pre-registration 
is required. Contact Jason Gibson (frog- 
man.! l@gmail.com) for information and 
to pre-register. Himgry Mother State Park 
has many camping spaces but to ensure you 
get one, reserve a spot early. 

VHS is partnering with the Virginia 
Institute of Marine Science this year to as- 
sist with the first-ever statewide Northern 
diamond-back terrapin survey. Tliis will 
occur at various eastern Virginia sites on 
designated weekends in June and July. The 
population status of this species is unknown 
in Virginia, but it is believed to be decUning 
due to habitat loss and drownings in crab 
pots. Obtaining a population count will 
make a tremendous contribution toward 
regulating the activities that negatively im- 
pact terrapins. If you are interested in par- 
ticipating, contact Kory Steele at 
president@vahcrpsociet\'.com. 

Information and further details about 
these events can be found at: www. Virginia 
herpetologicalsociety.com/2011- 
events/20 1 1 -events . htm. 




Congratulations go to Gilpm Brown of 
Richmond for his beautiful early morning 
image of a white-tailed doe and her faw/n 
nursing at Big iVIeadows in Shenandoah 
National Park. I guess the doe didn't like 
her picture being taken... thus, the tongue! 
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi SLR camera, 
70-300mm zoom lens, ISO 200, l/320th, 
f/8.0. Getting up early pays off! 

You are invited to submit one to five of your 
best pfiotograpfis to "Image of tfie Monthi," 
Virginia Wildlife Magazine, P.O. Box 11104, 
4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 
23230-1104. Send original slides, super 
high-quality prints, or high-res jpeg, tiff, or 
raw files on a disk and include a self-ad- 
dressed, stamped envelope or other shipping 
method for return. Also, please include any 
pertinent information regarding how and 
where you captured the image and what cam- 
era and settings you used, along with your 
phone number. We look forward to seeing and 
sharing your work with our readers. 



Virginia Pepartment of frame and Inland Fisheries 

p Outdoor Report ^^^^ 

Managing and Conserving ^^r 



For a free email subscription, visit our 

website at www.HuntFishVA.com. 

Click on the Outdoor Report link and simply 

fill in the required information. 



JUNE 2011 ♦ 31 




Photo Tips 

by Lynda Richardson 



Below the Surface 



One of the exciting new categories in 
this year's photography competition, 
Below the Surface, takes a look at what dwells 
in Virginia's lakes, rivers, creeks, vernal pools 
and bay. We urge contestants to be very cre- 
ative, not only when choosing to photograph 
from above looking into water, but also when 
taking pictures trom an underwater vantage 
point. Now you may be thinking, "What the 
heck! I'm not going to buy an expensive un- 
derwater housing for this! " But guess what? 
You don't have to. A trip to the local pet shop 
should do the trick. 

I'm not a whiner about many things but 
when it comes to sticking any body parts into 
freezing cold water, particularly my head, I 
am very hesitant. That said, if I get an assign- 
ment where it looks like I might have to get 
wet and cold taking underwater photo- 
graphs, in most cases I use a ten-gallon aquar- 
ium. 

To take underwater photographs using 
an aquarium, you will need a camera with a 
wide- or short-range lens and a right angle 
finder if you can't turn your camera's back 
LCD upwards to view from above. Then, you 
need an aquarium that will fit your head. I use 
a 1 0-gallon because it is light, easy to maneu- 
ver, and I can comfortably stick my head and 
one arm into it. The reason you need to do 
this is so that you can look through your cam- 
era's viewfinder to see what you're shooting. 

Once you've got your equipment ready, 
locate a wade-able waterway. Pick a location 
with clear water that has no current. Attach 
the right angle finder to your camera, place it 
in the bottom oi the aquarium, surround it 
with towels so it won't move around, and 
you're ready to go. One thing to be mindful of 
is the fact that an aquarium wants to float. If 
you let it go, it will flip over and then your 
camera becomes an underwater camera, 
whether you like it or not! I sometimes take 
an assistant to help hold the aquarium as I 
work. It also helps to add a few rocks to weigh 
it down. 




Some photographs are not meant to capture beauty but to make a statement about the environ- 
ment. Here, I used the aquarium technique to photograph a creepy algae-covered riverbed in 
Texas, revealing its poor condition. © Lynda Richardson 



Another thing about using an aquari- 
um is that you have to be super carefiji about 
not breaking it! Be extremely cautious work- 
ing around rocks or anything else that can 
bust the tank. Duct tape can be placed on 
the corners for extra protection, but just 
know that the last thing you want to do is 
break glass in a body of water or fall on it as 
you slip. 

Always work in water no more than 
three feet deep. A pair of comfortable chest 
waders can give you more flexibilit)', allow- 
ing you to sit down and kneel in the water 
without getting cold and wet! 

One of the super cool things about 
shooting under water is that you can create 



above and below water images. Seeing exactly 
what the camera sees allows you to line up the 
water line easily. When you do this just re- 
member that water magnifies things by about 
25 percent, so you will sometimes get a 
strange juxtaposition of subject matter. 

Be careful because you might find your- 
self addicted to this type of photography! I 
have the best time trying to sneak up on 
schools of minnows, capturing swaying 
fronds of eel grass, or creating strange ab- 
stracts when turning the camera upwards to 
the surface. Photographing Below the Surface 
can be an exciting and fun challenge while 
opening up your eyes to the underwater 
world. Good luck and be safe! 



32 VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFisfiVA.com 




n th6 \A/at6r 



by Tom Guess 



Pea Soup 



It was a beautiFiil spring morning and I 
was leaving Milford Haven in Mathews 
County on my way to Smith Point Light at 
the northern end of the Chesapeake Bay. As I 
headed through the Narrows I picked up that 
smell in the air that made me know summer 
was at Virginia's doorstep. The gulls and the 
other birds seemed excited as they rode the 
thermals and air currents in my boat's wake. 

As I rounded Gwynn's Island to make 
the turn out of Milford Haven and into the 
Piankatank River, I could see out into the bay 
what appeared to be a mountain of clouds on 
the water but clear skies above. Sea fog! Ac- 
cording to the National Weather Service, ad- 
vection fog is the result of condensation. 
However, the condensation is caused not by a 
reduction in surface temperature but, rather, 
by the horizontal movement of warm moist 
air over a cold surface. Sea fogs are always ad- 
vection fogs because the oceans don't radiate 
heat in the same way as land; so, they never 
cool sufficiendy to produce radiation fog. Fog 
forms at sea when warm air associated with a 
warm current drifts over a cold current and 
condensation takes place. 

While approaching the wall of clouds, I 
made sure my navigation lights were on, my 
radar was tuned correctly and my chart plot- 
ter was set up with my route to Smith Point 
Light. I also verified my heading on my com- 
pass and decided that, before entering the fog 
bank, I would take a quick fix of my position 
and plot it on the chart with two or three dead 
reckoning, or DR, positions. "Dead reckon- 
ing" means to manually estimate one's posi- 
tion based upon a previously determined 
position, or fix, and advance or plot that posi- 
tion on a chart based upon a known or esti- 
mated speed over time and course. 

The most important reason to plot a 
dead reckoning course: It gives you a way to 
determine where you are if all of your elec- 
tronics fail. 

Upon entering the fog bank, which was 
as thick as pea soup, I became keenly aware of 
my surroundings in the eerie quiet and paid 
strict attention to navigating and looking out 




'■ - -t^X^'^' ^- ■-'' ''*^*"'^^"'i:'*-^^i!i?>5SS^Sr'3 




for other boats, both visually and by radar. 
The interesting thing about his particular fog 
bank is that it reminded me of flying in the 
clouds. When I looked straight up I could see 
clear skies and the sun, but visibility on the 
surface was poor, at best, and compounded by 
the sun shining into the fog so brightly. 

The trip was rather uneventful, but 
thinking ol it reminded me of the importance 
ol learning more about navigation. Consider 
taking an advanced course offered by the U.S. 
Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power 
Squadrons. These courses go into much more 
depth than a basic boating safety course and 
will help you hone your boating and naviga- 
tion skills. You're never too old to learn! 

Until next time: Be Responsible, Be Safe, 
and Have Fun! 



Tom Guess, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret), serves as the 

state boating law administrator at the DGIF. 



Clarification to April Column 

It read: "This July 1 all operators of 
Personal Watercraft (jet ski) 50 years 
of age or younger and all operators of 
motor boats with motors of 10 hp or 
greater must meet that requirement 
as well as carry their certificate or 
card onboard when operating suchi 
watercraft." 

It should read: "This July 1 all opera- 
tors of Personal Watercraft (jet ski) 50 
years of age or younger and all opera- 
tors 20 years of age or younger of 

motor boats with motors of 10 hp or 
greater must meet that requirement 
as well as carry their certificate or 
card onboard when operating such 
watercraft." 



"' ■WliJIJiiiiliililPI 



mMi 



JUNE 2011 ♦ 33 



V 




nin 




by Ken and Mono Perrotte 



Grilled Cobia 



There's an argument to be made as to which species offish 
should be crowned the king of the Chesapeake. No doubt 
the striped bass, by virtue of its sheer economic importance and 
recent designation as Virginia's official saltwater fish, merits strong 
consideration. Yes, stripers, or rockfish as commonly and locally 
known, rule the spring and early winter. But come early June, the 
lower bay recognizes one monarch: the cobia. 

With rapid growth rates, an aggressive demeanor, and 
strength that challenges the toughest fishing tackle, cobia capture 
the angler's imagination. It doesn't hurt that they are delicious, as 
well, and like a trophy rockfish, a keeper cobia will yield several 
meals of succulent steaks. The thing about cobia, though, is that it 
doesn't freeze the best. It will keep for a couple of months in a 
well-sealed (preferably vacuum-sealed) package, but like any fish, 
it's best eaten fresh. 

Newport News resident Wes Blow is one ol Virginia's cobia 
masters. Blow targets the big fish, releasing far more than he ever 
keeps lor the dinner table. But he has kept enough to know what 
he likes and the simple recipe below is one of his favorites. Blow 
cautions anyone filleting a cobia to remove as much of the strong 
red meat along the lateral sides of the fish as possible. 

Another simple grill recipe calls for a flavorful smear of dill 
butter. The side salad dishes featuring a mix of fresh, roasted and 
grilled vegetables pair magnificently with these fish fillets. 

Cobia -Wes Blow Style 

2 pounds cobia fillets 

' 4 cup olive oil 

'4 cup lemon juice 

1 teaspoon dry mustard 

1 clove garlic, minced 

Vi teaspoon salt 

Va teaspoon pepper 

( Alt fillets into serving-size pieces of about an inch thick and 6 to 8 
ounces each and place in large bowl. Mix together olive oil, lemon 
juice, and spices. Pour mixture over fish and marinate for just 5 
min.; any longer and the lemon juice will start cooking the fish 
ceviche-style. Remove from marinade and grill for about 8 min., 
depending on fillet thickness. Turn several times, basting with the 
marinade as desired. I )on'r overcook! Serves 4. 

Grilled Cobia with Dill Butter 

2 pounds cobia fillets 

Olive oil 

Sea salt and fresh ground coarse pepper 

2 tablespoons uns.iltcd butter, softened 

2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill 




Vi teaspoon lemon juice 

'A teaspoon salt (or less, to taste) 

Cut fillets into 6- to 8-ounce, inch-thick serving pieces. Combine 

butter, dill, and lemon juice. Brush fish with olive oil and sprinkle 

with a little salt and pepper. Place on grill and put a small dab — 

about '/4 tsp. — of dill butter on the top of the fillet. Smear over the 

fillet when the butter starts to melt. Turn several times, each time 

topping with the dill butter. Don't overcook! When fish is removed 

from grill, top with additional dollop of dill butter to serve. Serves 

four. 

Grilled Zucchini 

Wash zucchini well and chop off the ends. If more than six inches 
long, cut zucchini in half You want to end up with slices that are 
about 2 Vi to 5 inches long. Slice zucchini lengthwise into long 
slices about '/4-inch thick. If the skin is tough, you can trim most of 
it away. Brush lightly with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. 
Grill, turning once, until soft throughout. 

Salad 

This salad is a bit of a variation of a Mediterranean Caprese-style 

salad with the nice, ripe tomatoes and mozzarella, but we adapted it 

based on availability of vegetables and some deli-roasted 

favorites at the supermarket. 

Lettuce 

Fresh tomato wedges 

Sliced cucumbers 

Roasted and/or sun dried tomatoes 

Asparagus (canned or fresh steamed) 

Olives (any favorite Mediterranean variety) 

Fresh mozzarella, sliced 

Arrange salad ingredients and drizzle with Lemon Vinaigrette. 

Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing 

4 tablespoons olive oil 

1 tablespoon lemon juice 

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar 

V4 teaspoon garlic powder 

V4 teaspoon back pepper 

Vi teaspoon Herbs de Provence 

Dash of salt 

Put all ingredients in a jar and shake to mix. 

A refreshing, crisp white wine from a Virginia vineyard superbly 
complements this meal, but look for one that isn't oak aged or, at 
most, minimally so. We paired it with a 2009 El MolinoTorrontes 
wine from Argentina. Forrontes is Argentina's premier white wine 
grape, and 1^1 Molina's vintage seemed to have a remarkable blend 
of Riesling, Pinot Crigio, and sauvignon blanc flavors and nuances. 



34 



Vlf^GINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFisfiVA.com 




Northern Pinesnake Watch 

You can help conserve and protect the Northern pinesnake! The Virginia 
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries would like your assistance in re- 
porting current, past, live or dead pinesnake observations. If you have 
seen a pinesnake or know of a past observation in the state, please fill out 
the form below and send it to the address provided. Your personal infor- 
mation will remain confidential. Thank you for helping us protect a natural 
rarity! Please include the following information in your observation: 

Date observed: 



Observation location (be as specific as possible): 



County or City/Town: 



Snake activity: moving resting dead other (explain) 



Additional comments: 



The below information will be used for confirmation purposes only. 

Name: 



Address: 



City/Town: 



State: 



Zip Code:. 



Daytime phone number: 



Additional information, such as photographs and/or location maps, is wel- 
come and should be included when possible. Send the completed form to 
Mike Pinder, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 2206 
South Main Street, Suite C, Blacksburg, VA 24060. 

You can also respond via our Web link, at: 
www.dgif.virginia.gov/pinesnake 




Loolcin^ 
for Something? 

Did you read something in the magazine a 
few months back... or a few years back... 
that you want to locate quickly? Or perhaps 
you remember a particularly vivid photo- 
graph from one of our features that you'd 
like to revisit. 

The editorial staff is pleased to announce 
that a searchable database of this magazine 
spanning the years 2005 through the pres- 
ent has been posted onto our website. Go 
to: www.dgif.virginia.gov/virginia-wildlife 
and click on "Contents Database" to access 
the file. You can search by author name, 
title, year, keyword, and subject matter 

While online, you will see that many of our 
most popular features have been posted 
there and may be downloaded as PDF files. 
And don't forget that most back issues of 
Virginia Wildlife are available at the cover 
price by calling the magazine office at 
(804) 367-0486. 



Help Us 
Spread the Word! 

Do you know someone who would enjoy a 
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your doctor or dentist needs a copy for their 
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Consider passing along your copy or our 
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Magazine subscription-related calls only 1-800-710-9369 ♦ Annual Subscription just $12.95 

All other calls to (804) 367-1 000; (804) 367-1 278 HY 






S\,-^ 




This workshop is designed primarily 
for females 9 years of age and above 
to learn the outdoor skills usually as- 
sociated with hunting and fishing, 
but useful in a variety of outdoor pur- 
suits. 

All courses focus on outdoor skills 
using hands-on instruction. Outdoor 
skills courses include outdoor cook- 
ing, fly-fishing, wild edibles, intro- 
duction to firearms, skeet shooting, 
archery, wilderness survival, map 
and compass, animal tracking, and 
more. 

This workshop 
Is for you if: 

• You would like to get your family 
involved in outdoor activities and 
need a place to start. 

• You have never tried outdoor ac- 
tivities but have hoped for an op- 
portunity to learn. 

• You are a beginner who hopes to 
improve your skills. 

• You are looking for the cama- 
raderie of like-minded individuals. 

This year's event will be held at Holi- 
day Lake 4-H Educational Center 
near Appomattox. Registration is $90 
per person, which includes meals, 
lodging, course instruction, use of 
equipment, and evening events. 
Registration deadline is June 25, 
201 1 at 5 p.m. 

For more information, visit our web- 
site www.dgif.virginia.gov/events 
with links to registration forms for 
downloading or call the Outdoor Ed- 
ucation Office at (804) 367-0656 or 
(804) 367-7800.